What Causes Bad Breath?

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

There’s no single answer, but advanced gum disease – usually preventable by brushing, flossing and regular dental visits – is a primary culprit, because bacteria can gather in pockets that form around the teeth, releasing unpleasant odors. Even before serious gum disease sets in, poor oral hygiene can contribute to this social embarrassment.

Onions, garlic and similar foods can also cause bad breath by releasing oils into the blood stream, which travel to the lungs and are exhaled. A denture can trap food and plaque, leading to odors. Brushing your dentures daily and soaking them every night in a cleaning solution helps to avoid these problems. In addition, some illnesses, including diabetes, tuberculosis and kidney and liver disorders, may also lead to bad breath. We can determine whether the problem is of dental origin and, if not, we will direct you to a physician for further evaluation and treatment.

Some ADA – accepted products (e.g., anti-gingivitis mouthrinses) also have been shown to reduce bad breath.

Be sure to brush your tongue including the back of your tongue daily to remove bacteria. If you continue to have bad breath, your dentist may be able to offer you other treatments.